A crash caused by loose gravel on the road has derailed Roger Kluge’s Tour de France, with the Lotto Soudal rider abandoning on stage 13, however, the German may still get to represent his country at the Olympic Games in Tokyo as no fractures were revealed by his medical checks.
At 62 kilometres to go on the 219.9 kilometre stage to Carcassonne a large crash rippled through the middle of the peloton, after which a number of riders could be seen trying to get up off the road while others scrambled up the grass verge of a roadside ravine. Riders caught alongside Kluge included Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Lucas Hamilton (Team BikeExchange), Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo), Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic), Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Rafał Majka (UAE Team Emirates), Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Søren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM).
“Suddenly everybody started braking and when I reached for my brakes, I already touched wheels,” Kluge said in a team statement. “I clipped out of my right pedal and went down on my right side. I crashed pretty hard and then I realized why everybody was braking… The road was full of little stones and we were just sliding on loose gravel.”
Kluge was taken to hospital in Narbonne, with heavy abrasions on the back, right hip and elbow, with the latter needing stitches.
“Immediately after the crash, I was also in a lot of pain, especially my back hurt a lot. I didn’t think a second of jumping back on the bike,” said Kluge.
His abandon means Lotto Soudal is now down to four riders, with the team among the growing ranks of squads having to reset their targets to try and salvage something from a Tour that hasn't played out the way they had planned. A heavy crash on stage 3 left Caleb Ewan with a broken collarbone, taking out the rider that Lotto Soudal had built its Tour team and objectives around. Jasper De Buyst then left on stage 9, with the alpine test catching a number of riders out, while Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) abandoned on stage 11, with its double ascents of Mont Ventoux.
While Kluge’s Tour de France may be over the hope is that the former Madison world champion will not face any disruption to his plans to represent Germany in both the Madison and omnium discipline at the Olympics in Tokyo. The track events begin August 2.
“Luckily there are no broken bones, so normally Tokyo will be the next step for me. But first, everything needs to heal well of course,” Kluge said. “I’m happy that I didn’t break anything and the Olympics are still possible but we will need to see how it goes. Luckily, there’s still some time.”
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